PloS one

NDRG2 ameliorates hepatic fibrosis by inhibiting the TGF-β1/Smad pathway and altering the MMP2/TIMP2 ratio in rats.

PMID 22110735


Liver fibrosis is a worldwide clinical issue. It has been well established that activated hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) are responsible for excessive extracellular matrix (ECM) deposition in chronically damaged livers. The identification of key elements that control HSCs activation will help to further our understanding of liver fibrosis and improve the outcome of clinical treatment. This study demonstrates that N-Myc downstream-regulated gene 2 (NDRG2) is a potential regulator of liver fibrosis as NDRG2 mRNA and protein levels were reduced during HSCs activation. In addition, enhanced NDRG2 expression reduced Smad3 transcription and phosphorylation, which inhibited HSCs activation by blocking the TGF-β1 signal. Moreover, NDRG2 contributed to an increase in the ratio of matrix metalloproteinase 2 (MMP2) to tissue inhibitor of matrix metalloproteinase 2 (TIMP2), which may facilitate the degradation of the ECM. In dimethylnitrosamine (DMN)-induced fibrotic rat livers, adenovirus-mediated NDRG2 overexpression resulted in decreased ECM deposition and improved liver function compared with controls. In conclusion, the present findings indicate that the modulation of NDRG2 is a promising strategy for the treatment of liver fibrosis.